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Yellow-billed Blue Magpie - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Gold-billed Magpie; Black-headed Magpie; Golden-billed Blue Magpie

Subspecies U. f. cucullata
Photo by Saurabh Sawant
Kashmir, India, May 2008
Urocissa flavirostris


55 - 61cm. A distinctive blue magpie:

  • Black hood with clear whitish patch on upper nape
  • Yellow bill
  • Whitish underparts
  • Dull grey-blue upperparts (more bluish in cucullata)
  • Very long blue tail with broad white tips and black subterminal bands
  • Legs light orange

Sexes similar, juveniles are duller than adults.

Similar species

Similar to Blue Magpie but note yellow bill and clear white patch on nape in Gold-billed Magpie.


Found in the Himalayas from northern Pakistan east to India, Nepal, Bhutan, adjacent southern Tibet and northern Burma. Two isolated populations in western Burma and northern Vietnam.
Widespread and locally common.


Juvenile subspecies U. f. cucullata
Photo by Alok Tewari
Dalhousie, Alt. 7000 ft., Himachal Pradesh, Western Himalayas, India, June-2010

Forms a superspecies with Blue Magpie and Formosan Magpie.


There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • U. f. cucullata:
  • Western Himalayas (Hazara to eastern Nepal)
  • U. f. flavirostris:
  • Eastern Himalayas to Assam, southern Tibet and northern Myanmar
  • U. f. schaeferi:
  • U. f. robini:
  • Northern Vietnam (north-western Tonkin)


Deciduous forest, favouring forest edge and clearings. Often near cultivations or plantations. Found above 2000m up to 3600m, locally lower. Generally replaces Blue Magpie above 1800m in the Himalayas.


A shy bird, usually encountered in pairs or small groups.


Feeds on invertebrates, small vertebrates and various fruits and berries. Also takes eggs and nestlings.


Breeding season from late April to July. The nest is made of sticks and twigs and placed in a fork of a long branch inside a tree, some 5 to 6 m above the ground. Lays 3 - 5 eggs.


A resident species with some altitudinal movements.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

Recommended Citation

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